Friday, April 11, 2008

The Masonic Building and Welton Street

Ah, the Masonic Building (1889). This downtown institution almost was lost to us back in 1985 due to fire. Without the intervention of preservationists and other interested parties, the Kittredge Building would be alone. The fire damage was significant which resulted in only the facade being salvaged, but we'll take it! This building, designed by Frank Edbrooke, is one of a few of his many notable projects still left standing downtown after so long. Others include the Brown Palace and the Oxford Hotel.

In the distance in this picture, one can also see the Kenmark Hotel at the corner of 17th and Welton, and beyond that, the current Grand Hyatt at 18th and Welton. The Kenmark, known as Hotel Kaiserhof until WWI, was recently demolished in 1995. "They" said it couldn't be saved, that it had to go. And today, we have a "nice" vacant lot/parking lot on that site.

But what about the other lesser known buildings along Welton Street "behind" the Masonic Building. I spend my days and nights doing a lot of research for many different projects--that's why I can't post here everyday--but it does point to the problems inherent with historic building research. One wants to ensure accuracy and sometimes that means digging more deeply than just the online photo archive at the Denver Public Library. And sometimes, the evidence is not readily available, especially for less flashy buildings that sometimes faced the city's interior blocks. Such is the case with the even addresses found along the 1600 block of Welton.

While doing other research, I stumbled upon the picture below:

The dotted line in this picture is hovering over the Mack Building which stands along Welton next to the Masonic Building. This photo is circa 1953. The information on the back of this photo indicates that the Mack Building had been on the site since 1883. It was to be torn down and to make way for a seven story office building. This is where more research would be needed! The Denver Public Library's online photo archive is pretty scant on later 20th century architecture. The building currently on the site and adjacent sites at approximately 1630 Welton was built in 1982. You can see it at the top picture on this blog. It currently houses offices and other businesses such as the Colorado Athletic Club. Interestingly, the building is owned by one group called IEC Denver, but the land on which it sits is still owned by the Mack Family (the Louis Mack and Barbara Mack McKay Trust). This picture also gives a better view of the Kenmark Hotel and the Patterson Building (also no longer standing) at the corner of 17th and Welton.

Another view of this block, circa 1920s, is below:

And what of the other smaller buildings on this block. Well, one of the more prominent was the Columbia Savings and Loan Association Building at 1638 Welton, designed by Baerresen Brothers architects. It received a facade redo sometime after WWII and became Silver State Bank. It can be seen in the Mack Building picture further above, just to the left of the said building. This picture below is circa 1900.

The building below is circa 1897. It appears to have still been standing along with the Columbia/Silver State Building and Kenmark Buildings in the top photo from 1985. Its address is given as 1630 Welton however, so it may have been demolished when the Mack Building came down. Without more research, we might also assume that when the Kenmark came down, these two buildings came down with it. This picture is described as being a rowhouse. It states that it also contained the Formosa Tea Company and that it sold other Japanese goods.

It is always interesting to see what has come before. At least photography allows us this window into the past when the buildings are gone. Long live the Masonic Building! Click here to see the 1600 block of Welton today.

For more information on Block 174, which includes the 1600 block of Welton, check out

In addition, learn more about Downtown Denver's historic buildings and historic district at (included are the Masonic Building and Kittredge Building).

All black and white historic photos are from the Denver Public Library's Western History Collection.